Teens misuse Adderall

Adderall is the third most abused drug among high school seniors, according to a survey performed by the University of Michigan and it is linked to severe medical and legal consequences.

“Students think it’s a safe drug and that is probably why so many people use it to do better in school,” senior Jamie Lotito said.

Adderall stimulates the central nervous system. It is commonly used to treat sufferers of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and it has become a trend in recent years for students to illegally use Adderall to aid them during exam week, with one in eight teens reporting abuse of Adderall at least once in their lifetime.

“There is no such thing as a safe drug,” Lisa M. Hall, Medical Doctor, Fellow American College of Physicians said. “Any substance you put in your body, illicit, prescription, natural or herbal, all have potential side effects and consequences.”

Reactions to Adderall can include: insomnia, headaches, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, according to Hall. More serious side effects can also occur, such as: heart palpitations; tachycardia, a heart rate that exceeds the normal range; and emotional lability, which can present itself in fits of uncontrollable crying and or laughter.

“Usually no one complains [about side effects]; they’re practically bragging about the fact that they take it,” Lotito said.

There are severe long-term consequences to Adderall abuse. These include: significant cardiovascular complications, stroke and psychiatric problems including depression, behavioral difficulties and drug dependency, according to Hall.

Adderall comes with two black box warnings, which are the highest level warnings on prescription drug side effects that allow it to remain on the market. These warnings are issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

There is a black box warning on Adderall that it is associated with serious cardiovascular events, including sudden death and an additional warning for potential drug dependency.

Illicit Adderall use doesn’t only have medical consequence. as a schedule II controlled substance it has a high potential of abuse leading to psychological or physical dependence, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency Office of Diversion Control.

Very small amounts of Adderall, considered by law to be for personal use, are a misdemeanor punishable by 93 days in jail, according to Security Officer Jerry Griesbeck.

“Anything more than a small amount, the law considers them to be a distributor and that is a felony,” Griesbeck said. “A typical felony is five years or more.”

Even with health consequences and the law deterring students from Adderall abuse, illegal use of the drug is still rising. Nine percent of teens have abused Adderall in the past year, up six percent from 2008, according to a national survey ran by the MetLife Foundation.

“Students need to consider the consequences. You don’t need drugs to perform well.” Hall said. “Respect yourself.”